Jammu & Kashmir: Muslim students singing Hindu religious song unwillingly stirs controversy
By Hilal Mir
SRINAGAR, Jammu and Kashmir, India (AA): A Hindu religious song by Muslim students singing unwillingly at a government school in Indian-administered Kashmir stirred controversy, prompting Muslim clerics to strongly object and call the act intolerable.
Muttahida Majlis-e-Ulema, or United Council of Clerics, an umbrella organization representing dozens of religious organizations of all major sects and denominations of Islam in Indian-administered Kashmir, said in a statement on Tuesday that it will not tolerate interference by the central government or any of its departments in the religious affairs of the restive region’s Muslim community.
Pro-freedom leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who has been under house detention since Aug. 5, 2019, is its founder and boss.
The council was reacting to a viral video clip in which teachers from a government school in Kulgam district of the Kashmir Valley were seen singing a Hindu devotional song in a classroom, while boys and girls students repeated it, swaying their arms and heads sideways as Hindus do when singing religious songs.
The song, which was a favorite of Mahatma Gandhi, is dedicated to the Hindu deity Rama. The education department had asked schools to sing this song on September 13 as part of a calendar of events commemorating Gandhi’s birth anniversary. The festivities will conclude on Oct. 2nd, Gandhi’s birthday.
“Majlis-e-Ulema made it clear that protection of our religion and Islamic identity is, as Muslims, our fundamental religious responsibility, and deliberate interference in this by the government, education department or any other agency will neither be accepted nor tolerated,” the council said in the statement.
“It is becoming clear that there seems to be a deliberate plan to push our young generation through state-run educational institutions towards apostasy, to wean them away from Islamic beliefs and identity, to speed their so-called ‘integration’ with the Hindutva idea of India. This is a very serious matter,” the statement reads.
The group said that it demonstrated its “resilience to such dictates that go against the very grain of our religious beliefs and identity” by organizing the council’s meeting on Monday despite “efforts to browbeat Muslim Ulema and scholars and weakening their influence, as shown by the recent preventive detention of several religious leaders”.
Three prominent Muslim preachers, Mushtaq Ahmad Veeri, Ghulam Rasool Dawoodi and Sarjan Barkati, were detained under the Public Safety Act, which allows authorities to detain a person for three to 12 months without a trial. Vijay Kumar, the Inspector General of Kashmir, told the media that the preachers were instigating the youth.
“We had ample evidence and that is why we had called them several times and tried to convince them not to instigate the youth, the people. When they did not stop, they were charged under PSA,” Kumar said.
“It go against the very grain of our religious beliefs and identity” by organizing the council’s meeting on Monday despite “efforts to browbeat Muslim Ulema and scholars and weakening their influence, as shown by the recent preventive detention of several religious leaders”.
[Map of Kashmir by CIA Factbook/Public Domain]
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